Tuesday, 23 February 2021
Title: The Tongue of the Wise
By: Cecilia Tan 陈俊芳
Matthew 12:36-37. “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Once upon a time, there was a young man who had a difference of opinion with his pastor and started spreading ugly rumours about him to the other villagers. Eventually he fell ill and asked the pastor to pray for him. The pastor came speedily and the young man asked for his forgiveness for slandering him.
The pastor offered to forgive him on condition that when he got well, he would do what the pastor requested of him. So when he recovered, he looked for the pastor who gave him this instruction: “Take a feather pillow, cut it up, go to the village marketplace and scatter the feathers to the wind. After that, come and see me.”
The young man quickly did as the pastor instructed and then went to the pastor, asking “Am I now forgiven?” The pastor replied, “Just one more thing – go now and gather up all the feathers.” The puzzled young man retorted, “That’s impossible – the wind has already scattered them!” The pastor wisely replied, “So it is with your words! I gladly forgive you, but always remember that just as it is impossible to recover the feathers, so also it is impossible to take your words back. The damage has already been done!”
Words once spoken, take a life of their own and can never be recalled. It is worse if the words have been distorted. Which is why, early in Exodus 23:1, God commanded the Israelites thus: “You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness.” We are not to engage in false reports, rumours, slander or gossip. The tongue is prone to produce or pass on thoughtless and untrue comments about others which may lead to damaged reputations, breakdown of relationships, quarrels, fights and even legal suits.
Slanderous speech displeases God as it sows discord and strife. One who slanders is described as a fool in Proverbs 18:7 “A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul.” Hence when we slander someone, we are actually endangering our own soul. An easy cure to this evil streak would be to keep our mouths shut! But this calls for tremendous self-discipline!
Grumbling is another sin abhorrent to God. One of Israel’s greatest sins while in the wilderness was that of complaining and murmuring. God had led Israel out of slavery in Egypt and promised them a land flowing with milk and honey. Yet when things got tough, they complained and lamented that they wished they had never left Egypt! They
grumbled about the bitter water, about being hungry, about being thirsty, about not having meat to eat, about Moses, about Aaron… and about almost everything else! Such ingratitude, discontent and rebellion provoked God’s wrath so much so that He sent a plague among them and 14,700 of them perished in Korah’s rebellion (Numbers 16:49).
So we should eliminate slandering, speaking untruths, gossiping and grumbling. How then can we glorify God with our mouth? We should adhere to Apostle Paul’s exhortation in Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
In these troubled pandemic times, more than ever before, we ought to speak words of hope and encouragement that will strengthen faith and dispel fears. Words impact people for better or for worse. Kind words can build a person’s self-esteem and give people the impetus they need to live meaningfully and do great and significant things with their lives. Conversely, direct insults and hurtful words can cause harm that sometimes lasts a lifetime and tear the self-esteem right out of a person, setting him on the path of hopelessness, desolation and ruin.
Let’s seek to use words that bless and not curse, comfort and not distress, heal and not make sick…words that build and not destroy. Since death and life are in the power of the tongue, we ought to choose our words well. For words can turn failure into success, despair into hope, sadness into joy, defeat into victory and hatred into love!
May this warning from our Lord Jesus in Matthew 12:36-37 steer us to open our mouths with the utmost care, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
May our words dispel fear and bring comfort, hope, strength and healing to many during these worrisome times, according to what is taught in Proverbs 12:18 “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but THE TONGUE OF THE WISE brings healing.”
Our Heavenly Father, we seek Your forgiveness for our untamed tongues that are so often full of deadly poison. Set a guard, O Lord, over our mouths, and keep watch over the door of our lips. Instead of using words that harm others, help us to edify, encourage, inspire and uplift one another. Tame our tongues, Lord , and enable us to use our tongues wisely. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
年轻人立刻就照牧师的指示去做了，然后去见牧师，问道：“我现在被原谅了吗？” 牧师回答说：“还有一件事 – 现在去把所有的羽毛收集起来。” 感到困惑的年轻人反驳说：“那是不可能的 – 风已经把它们吹散了！” 牧师机智地回答说：“你的话也是如此！我很乐意原谅你，但要永远记住，就像不可能收回羽毛一样，说出去的话也不可能收回。破坏已经造成了！”